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Pope Renounces Petrine Office

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11 February, 2013: The Holy Father, at the end of today's consistory for causes for canonizati

on, announced his resignation from ministry as Bishop of Rome to the College of Cardinals. Following is the Holy Father's complete declaration, which he read in Latin:

"I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is."

"Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer."

"Benedict XVI will continue to fully carry out his functions and his service until 28 February at 8:00 pm.

From that moment on the situation of Sede Vacante will begin, regulated, from a legal and canonical standpoint, by the texts referring to Sede Vacante in the Code of Canon Law and the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi dominici gregis' by John Paul II, regarding the Sede Vacante of the Apostolic See."

The Director of the Holy See's Press Office explained that the Holy Father "will move to Castel Gandolfo on 28 February, and, once he has finished the tasks he has in progress, he will take up residence in the former cloistered monastery in the Vatican. The process for the election of a new Pope will begin on 1 March. We do not yet know the exact date of the conclave, but obviously there will be no need to wait the normal eight days of mourning (novendali) after the death of the Pope. Thus, in two weeks, during the month of March, in time for Easter, we will have a new Pope ... Benedict XVI will have no role in next March's conclave, nor in the running of the Church during the time between popes, the time of Sede Vacante. The Apostolic Constitution gives no role in this transition to a pope who resigns."

"Personally," he concluded, "I received the announcement of the Pope's resignation with great admiration, for its great valour, for the Holy Father's freedom of spirit and great concern for the responsibility of his ministry. Benedict XVI has offered us a great witness of spiritual freedom, of great wisdom in regard to Church government in today's world."

 
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